THOUGHTS from OUR HEARTS and OUR CURRENT OBSERVATIONS on the BREED


by Steve Brown (Broevans) & Sandy Steward (Pridesden) 
 

Ch Rishkhan Kelly's Hero at Shazzabars with Steve Brown.

While Steve and Sandy have a combined length of breed involvement of around 50 years in Löwchen, their only breed, both confirm that this interest is first and foremost a hobby.

Presently, Steve has the United Kingdom’s top winning Löwchen of all time, CH Rishkhan Kelly’s Hero at Shazzabars.There is no cause for surprise upon learning that Sandy Steward’s Pridesden kennel is well represented in this illustrious Löwchen’s pedigree. Indeed, the mutual respect and goals of the Pridesden and Broevans kennels are a testament to a fine history of cooperation and trust.
 

Having spent some time with various Löwchen breeders in Finland and the Scandinavian countries over the years, it struck us both on how passionate and committed they are to the betterment of the Lowchen in their countries. They do not breed a litter on chance or for financial reward for the pet market, but search the world to add diverse genes to their stock.

It is enlightening to see and appreciate the enthusiasm of show people who have worked together to plan litters and give them healthy, sound stock with good temperaments, construction and breed type. Their future matings and litters are planned years in advance, selecting the best appropriate dogs and bitches to complement each other. Of course, even with this in mind, there is no guarantee of excellence, but there is no thought of this being the nearest, cheapest or free stud dog – just because it is available, on the chance that together, they may get lucky and produce an occasional reasonable exhibit. Why then do we not do this more in the UK to achieve genetic diversity so ensuring the future of the Löwchen in the UK? Surely it would be for the benefit of the breed to work together towards the future of the breed and avoid the inevitable inbreeding infertility?

Furthermore, we doubt if we or other realists would contemplate putting a whole litter at a time in the show ring. It is doubtful that established breeders anywhere in the world would recognise or risk their reputation on putting sub-standard stock in the ring (unless they don’t know better) or do it tongue in cheek.  When this happens, surely the overall quality and perception of the breed suffers in the long run? As two exhibitor/breeders who have served their time in Löwchen we feel extremely fortunate if we get what we consider to be an excellent prospect for showing, and two in one litter is a real bonus.

It just struck both of us how, when new exhibitors come into the breed, they assume they are completely knowledgeable from day one about the Löwchen just because they have another breed. It appears that they fail to tap into the knowledge and communicate with established breeders with years of experience under their belts associated with our lovely breed. We are not suggesting for a minute that it should be us that they approach, although we would be happy to help any new, committed, genuinely interested exhibitors; the choice of course would be theirs. Many, we observe, just want to run before they can walk and appear to show no respect for those people really in the know.

Being in a numerically small breed, for some it is an attractive prospect to come in and make up a quick champion and then dive out again (merely wishing to add another breed to their CV’s). Fortunately, it is not a commercial breed and newcomers soon realise that in general, there is no money to be made unless you are breeding several litters per year and have ready access to the pet market with no future intention of showing. So unless one has a number of bitches from which to breed that are not being shown financial gain is not an option (or desire) for most of us.

Unfortunately the majority of show dogs have a short span of fame and, if we could work out exactly how long they are in each class in a show per year (we calculate about 3 hrs in total), this should demonstrate to owners just how much of a “show dog” they have in their possession. Surely then we should treat them as pets and family members first and foremost before basking in the glory of their achievements (or not, as the case may be) in the show ring. It is therefore quite a sad fact that in their show and breeding existences, increasingly, many dogs do not live the lives they deserve as domesticated animals. Can we all put our hands on our hearts and honestly say that our dogs get walked, loved, socialised, exercised, live life running free, are appreciated for themselves, and not caged for most of their lives or just stuck in the whelping box asap?
 



 


It is also quite sad that many people (judges and exhibitors alike) are looking solely for glamour and a lot of “flash” these days without considering the basic fundamentals of construction, ability to move properly and breed type. Breed specialist judges have a huge responsibility in this direction. It appears that show entries are continuing to fall; we all, of course, have the right to choose our judges and those of us who are no longer working also have the financial and health constraints to consider. It is possible that this is the beginning of the end for our lovely breed? There is a distinct absence of younger people involving themselves in the hobby to carry on from us all, so will showing now be the privilege of those who can afford it having a regular income to sustain the increasing costs of entries and fuel etc. before we oldies eventually depart this mortal coil?

Also worth comment is the atmosphere around ringside shows. It is understood that there will always be some confrontation where competition abounds, but shouldn’t we all, for the sake of the breed, try to get along with each other, accepting that there will always be differences and agreeing to disagree?

Can we all honestly say that we are committed to this breed with passion and determination to improve it, to continue the good health and lives of our dogs? If not, then what are we doing in it?
 

Sandra Steward, breeder/owner/handler of Pridesden affix. states: “I have personally been fortunate in meeting, judging and/or competing with many of your contributors.” Sandra has travelled extensively as a breed specialist judge with a deep knowledge of Löwchen that dates back generations.


We have paid for this article in the Year Book so please don’t think we are expressing our opinions “for free.” The foregoing is how we (from our hearts) see things in the breed today and our comments, observations and opinions are not directed at individuals and are merely an overview. Our purpose here is not to offend (though those with a guilty conscience could perhaps identify with our comments) but to encourage Löwchen owners to revisit their attitudes, objectives and expectation of what is, after all, a hobby!!!



In conclusion, we genuinely hope that the Löwchen continues to thrive, improve, make its mark on the dog world, but mostly, enjoy their lives as members of families in our homes and given acceptably good (though comparatively short) lives. We hope, if nothing else, that this is food for thought.



Our best wishes to you and all dogs and long live the Little Lion Dog with roaring success!




Disclaimer (as it appeared in original publication):  This article which was paid for by the contributors, Steve and Sandy, is NOT necessarily the view of the Löwchen (Little Lion Dog) Club



Note to Löwchen Guardian readers: This article first appeared in THE LÖWCHEN (Little Lion Dog) CLUB YEARBOOK 2009.  Copyright was maintained by and written permission received from the authors, Steven Brown (Broevans) and Sandy Steward (Pridesden)